About Us

Glenwood Academy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, private residential education community for children in grades 2 - 8 that are academically capable but come from challenging circumstances. Glenwood educates more than 150 students on a campus located in Glenwood, Ill., about 35 miles south of Chicago. Nearly 100% of our children live below or at the poverty line and 92% of our children are from single-parent households.

Glenwood Fulfills Crucial Needs
Glenwood Academy serves students by providing individualized instruction with small class sizes during the school day and a safe and supportive residential community to call home Sunday evening through Friday afternoon. Our students benefit from a structured and nurturing environment enabling them to focus and take advantage of academic and extracurricular opportunities to better their futures.


Physical and Emotional Safety: providing essential childhood needs
Education: inspiring student achievement and excellence
Community: ensuring positive role models and a caring family-like environment
Support: dynamic partnership with the family
Self Esteem: instilling highly effective life and leadership skills

To learn more about our needs, please contact us at (708) 754-0175.

History of Glenwood

Glenwood Academy would not be the place it is today without the tireless dedication of prior generations. Our Board of Trustees, administration, teachers and houseparents- past and present- are all an intricate part of our legacy. Glenwood has had the tireless spirit to serve nearly 20,000 Chicago area children for 130 years.
Oscar Dudley
It Started with Two
Prior to 1887, the city of Chicago and state of Illinois had no organized protection for the dependent children, and no provision for an official process to prosecution of parents or others who neglected and brutally treated the young and defenseless. Oscar L. Dudley experienced this first-hand as the Humane Society’s Chief Agent, who was hired to protect stray animals yet discovered more homeless, neglected and abused boys than dogs on the city streets.

Disgusted by the abuse and neglect, Dudley took the initiative in arresting and prosecuting the first case of cruelty to children ever put on trial in the State. The publicity given to the case shed light on the problem of dependent and neglected children. After this many instances of cruelty and neglect were reported to the Society. In 1879, through the work of Oscar Dudley the agency changed its name from the Illinois Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to the Humane Society for the State of Illinois, becoming one of the country’s first non-sectarian agencies to include abused, neglected or abandoned children in their protective services.

Robert Todd LincolnDespite making strides in protecting abused and neglected children, Dudley quickly discovered that there were no community agencies to refer the children who were considered “street boys or waifs” to for legal protection or care of their physical needs. When the need became so great that Dudley could no longer help all of the children through the Humane Society, he began to take in and care for them personally to his home. During this time, Dudley also came up with the idea to create a training school for boys and presented it to a group of charitably minded citizens. One of those citizens happened to be Robert Todd Lincoln, son of President Lincoln. In 1887, the two formed a powerful partnership that went to create one the first and oldest training schools for dependent children in the Illinois. For Dudley it just had to be done, for Lincoln it was something that should be done. With that, the Illinois Industrial Training School for Boys was created.

Norwood Park
The school’s first location was in Norwood Park and consisted of a large three-story, frame building and four acres of land. The building had 26 rooms, and two central halls and a basement. In the first year, the enrollment of the school grew from 10 to 143 boys. Many of the boys were eventually placed in a private home or farms.

Glenwood’s Founding Vision
Rural GlenThe founding vision for Glenwood was to turn “child-saving” into “person-building” by developing dependent children into self-sufficient adults who lived productive lives. The concept of the school was to provide a home and proper training school for dependent boys. It was also the belief of the founders that a child should be placed in a private home as soon as possible. A school like Glenwood would keep a boy long enough to prepare him for a foster home. This vision was brought to fruition through a gift from board member, Milton George who offered to donate his 300-acre farm in Glenwood, Illinois. The farm known as “Rural Glen” was the first major gift received by the School and possibly the greatest asset that secured the school and allowed it to grow and endure.
Glenwood School for Boys and Girls
Becoming Glenwood
Glenwood moved from Norwood Park to its new location in Glenwood, Ill., on June 10, 1890. Glenwood continued to grow into its new land by building 12 cottages, which gave adequate space for 400 boys and staff, a large main service building, an administration building, school, club house, chapel, greenhouse, laundry and central heating plant. Lastly, the School also owned and operated its own large farm and dairy.

Since its origin the school has operated under several different names; first, as “The Illinois Industrial Training School for Boys”; second, “The Illinois School of Agriculture and Manual Training for Boys”; third, the “Illinois Manual Training Farm”; fourth “Glenwood Manual Training School; fifth “Glenwood School for Boys; sixth “Glenwood School for Boys and Girls”; and currently “Glenwood Academy”.
Glenwood Manual Training School Dairy Barn
The Evolution of Glenwood’s Model
Dudley’s concept of a training school for street boys and waifs was touted as an ideal system in that it was filling a need for a group of children for which there were no other provisions. Glenwood viewed itself as a school and homefinder more than a long-term home. Although, the founding principle of reuniting boys with their parents or finding suitable foster homes proved to be more difficult than imagined. Most of the boys simply had no parents, which were lost through abandonment or death. At Glenwood, boys were cared for while receiving training in farm work and then placed with farm families as apprentices. In exchange for farm work, the boys would receive room and board as well food and all other appropriate necessities.

Glenwood implemented military training into the curriculum during its first year and has remained a component of the School. In the early years, the School held competitive military drills, which winning became a point of prestige for the boys on the campus. Support for the military program fluctuated between the World Wars and the Korean War. In the late seventies due to massive anti-war demonstrations, the military program shifted its focus to emphasize leadership and teamwork among the children. The intention was to cultivate the value of being able to give and take orders and to create generations of good citizens.

Today, Glenwood Academy encourages children who have been entrusted to the academy to live, learn and grow through our network of educators, cottage families and volunteers. The opportunity to attend Glenwood changes our student's lives in immeasurable ways. Our students are offered academic opportunities and leadership development they would not otherwise experience. We are proud of our children and their commitment to achievement. 

Through our on-campus academic program we inspire student achievement and excellence that serves students in grades three through eight. Small class sizes allow each child to receive more individualized attention and support.

Children live in family-like cottages with their houseparents and 10-12 of their peers. This ensures they are surrounded by positive role models within a caring family-like community. The presence of stable, concerned adults in children’s everyday lives preserves a semblance of family life.

Children return home every weekend to reinforce the importance of the parent’s role and the preservation of the family. Glenwood works closely with parents to create a positive and healthy environment for their children. Houseparents are responsible for the children during the week. During pick-up and drop-off times, parents have the opportunity to get updated and discuss their child’s progress, behavior and challenges throughout the week. Both work towards securing the best possible education and environment for their children.

At Glenwood, we don't limit our learning opportunities to the classroom. We provide children with a variety of ways to discover their talents and interests outside the classroom. The military, sports and recreation and enrichment programs help strengthen children’s creativity, confidence and leadership skills. These programs inspire and motivate our students to realize their full potential as productive and responsible young people through positive, enriching and constructive activities that are essential for our youth to develop healthy lifestyles

But, above all, children have a safe learning and living environment that supports and promotes wellness, healthy nutrition, and an active lifestyle.

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Glenwood’s historic campus in Glenwood, Illinois, is located approximately 35 miles south of downtown Chicago. Campus is comprised of 120 grassy acres, plus 23 buildings including 14 residence halls; an academic center with three computer labs, music room, and a library; a woodworking shop, two gymnasiums, chapel, dining hall and special events center, administration building, and maintenance facilities.

Glenwood Academy
500 W. 187th Street
Glenwood, IL 60425
Phone: 708.754.0175
Fax: 708.754.7834

Click here for a map.


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